Jun 2024


Jun 2024

How Do You Take Care of Gold Coins? A Step-by-Step Guide

By StoneX Bullion

You’ve invested a lot of thought (and money) into choosing your gold coins, and taking care of them ensures they remain safe from damage and preserve their value over time. Proper care of gold coins is a combination of handling them carefully, using appropriate cleaning methods (if required), and storing them in safe, protected environments. Not doing so can create damage, leave behind fingerprints, and cause wear and tear that devalues your investment.

In this guide, we’ll cover how to properly handle, clean, and store your gold coins to ensure they’re cared for properly.

Key takeaways:

  • It’s best to handle your coins rarely, if ever. If you do need to handle your coins, follow certain protocols to prevent damage.
  • We don’t generally recommend cleaning your coins, but if you must, be sure you follow the guidelines in this article - or you could do more harm than good.
  • Proper storage is essential to taking care of your coins and preventing corrosion.

How to properly handle gold coins

First things first, let’s talk about how to properly handle gold coins. The best piece of advice we can give you about handling gold coins is to not handle them unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Gold is a soft, malleable metal that’s easily susceptible to damage - especially if your coins are high purity. While damaged gold coins will still be valuable in terms of their gold content, any kind of scratches or dents can reduce their numismatic value to collectors.

While we don’t advise handling your gold coins, sometimes you’ll need to. For that reason, it’s important to learn how to handle them properly to preserve their value and quality. Below, we share a few key guidelines for properly handling gold coins.

See more: What are the Best Gold Coins to Buy and Why? From Kruggerands to Maple Leafs

Keep the area clean

Be sure that the space you’re handling your gold coins in is clean and free of dirt or mess. This sounds obvious, but the last thing you want is to have your coin fall out of your hands and into somewhere dirty.

Speaking of coins falling out of your hands: ensuring your space is free of clutter will make you less likely to accidentally trip or drop your coins while handling them. If your desk is full of clutter, drinks, and knick-knacks, get rid of them before you start handling your gold coins. Clear away all food, drinks, and objects, and handle your coins in a completely clean space.

While we’re talking about space, avoid placing your gold coins on a hard surface. Lay a clean towel or cloth on a flat surface before setting your coins down. You might also want to place a soft towel or cloth on the floor in case you drop your coin.

Wash your hands thoroughly

Carefully wash and dry your hands before picking up any gold coins. No matter how clean they look, don’t skip this step. It’s essentially a no-brainer for any gold investor or coin collector but beginners won’t always be in the habit.

In case you didn’t already know, you can leave fingerprints on a gold coin’s surface. In some cases, it may be impossible to ever remove stains from handling gold coins with unwashed hands. As you can imagine, it wouldn’t be easy to sell a gold coin at a premium when it’s discolored and covered in fingerprints.

An alternative to washing your hands is using unscented hand sanitizer. Because hand sanitizer contains alcohol, it can strip the oil out of your hands and quickly leave them dry. There’s also another, more recommended option than washing your hands, and that’s not handling your coins with your hands at all.

Wear cotton gloves

To properly protect your gold coins, consider investing in a pair of thin, cotton gloves that you’ll solely use when handling coins. Wearing gloves will protect your coins from fingerprints and prevent the oils in your palms and fingertips from interacting with the precious metal in the coins. This will eliminate the risk of leaving behind fingerprints and discoloring the coins. Resist the urge to wear any other type of glove, particularly latex or plastic gloves that can contain powder or lubricants that will damage the precious metal.

Hold coins by their edges

One of the worst things you can do when handling gold coins is to touch the face of the coin. This is the part of the coin that features a design. In the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf, for example, the coin’s face is the part of the coin that features the maple leaf design and bust of the late Queen Elizabeth II or King Charles III.

Even if you’re wearing cotton gloves, be sure to only hold coins by their edges. You don’t want to risk leaving any scratches, discoloration, or fingertips on the face, no matter how small the chances are. Damaging the face of a gold coin can quickly diminish its quality and value.

Here’s our best tip: hold your coins with the tip of your thumb and pointer finger, like you’re making an ‘OK’ gesture. Whether you’re handling ancient coins or bullion, this is the most important rule to follow. Never hold a gold coin by its face.

See more: How to Read a Coin – Components of a Coin: Obverse, Reverse, Edge and Inscriptions

Keep handling to a minimum

Again, the best way to handle gold coins is to simply not! But if you have to, avoid doing it often. Leave your gold coins in their protective casing or stored away to prevent any accidental damage.

Keep these tips in mind when handling your coins and you’ll avoid damage that could diminish their value. If you’re careful, handling gold coins won’t be a problem.

How to clean gold coins

Before you decide to clean your gold coins, think about whether or not you really need to. It’s not necessary to clean gold bullion coins, and in some cases cleaning your coins can actually damage their mint finish. There are many stories of gold coin investors devaluing their collections by accidentally damaging them while cleaning.

Because gold doesn’t tarnish or corrode, it should stay bright and shiny so long as it has been well looked after. That said, if you do want to clean coins, here’s how you can do so without damaging or devaluing them.

Before you clean your coins:

  • Clean your hands: Always clean your hands before handling gold coins. Wash them carefully with soap to remove dirt and oil that can tarnish your coin. You can also use hand sanitizer. Make sure your hands are completely dry before you begin cleaning.
  • Wear gloves: Wearing gloves before handling gold coins is never a bad idea. Even if you’ve already cleaned them, cotton gloves provide that extra layer of protection that will prevent the transfer of fingertips and oils. Again, always choose lint-free cotton gloves and avoid latex or plastic gloves that can contain lubricant or powders.
  • Use plastic tweezers: You’ve washed your hands and worn gloves, now add another layer of protection by picking up your gold coin with plastic tweezers. Be sure to avoid metal tweezers which can scratch the surface of your coin.
  • Prepare a soft surface: Lay a soft cloth or towel over the surface where you’ll be placing your coins. This will further protect your coins by keeping them in place and providing a cushion. You can also lay a towel on the floor in case you accidentally drop your coin.

Now that you’ve prepared your surface, you can begin cleaning your coin. There are several methods you can use:

  • Soap and water: Combine a few drops of mild soap with warm water and use a soft cloth to gently rub the coin. Avoid using any abrasive materials, like toothbrushes or scouring pads, as they can damage the coin and decrease its value.
  • Olive oil: Dab a small amount of olive oil on a soft cloth and gently rub the coin to remove dirt or grime. Afterwards, wipe it clean with a dry cloth and carefully buff it to restore its shine.
  • Jewelry cleaner: You may be able to clean your coin with commercial gold jewelry cleaner. Follow the instructions on the cleaner’s bottle and, again, use only a soft cloth during the cleaning process. After cleaning, rinse the coin with warm water and dry it carefully.
  • Baking soda: If you’re cleaning an old, discolored coin, you might want to try baking soda. Mix a small amount of baking soda with warm water to form a paste and gently rub it onto the coin with a soft cloth. Rinse the coin with warm water and dry.
  • Hydrogen peroxide: This is another method for cleaning old discolored coins. Mix a small amount of hydrogen peroxide with water and use a soft cloth to gently rub the coin. Rinse with warm water and dry.

While the above methods can be used to clean gold coins, they can still cause damage if not done carefully. If you’re handling particularly rare or valuable coins, we suggest using professional cleaning services. These experts will know how to clean your coins without causing damage. Be sure to only use reputable and experienced companies and look for reviews from past clients before allowing them to handle your coins.

Similar reading: Why Do Silver Coins Tarnish and How to Clean Them

Can cleaning gold coins reduce their value?

Many coin investors choose not to clean their coins for fear of decreasing their value. Generally, using gentle cleaning techniques won’t cause significant damage or decrease a coin’s value, however if you use abrasive cleaning methods (like baking soda or hydrogen peroxide) you might risk damaging the coin and reducing its value.

Before deciding whether or not to clean your coins, consider the rarity and historical significance of your gold coin. If it’s rare or historically significant, you may be best off using a professional coin cleaning service or leaving them as is. Some collectible coins are actually considered more valuable when they have natural signs of wear and tear.

How to properly store gold coins

The best way to take care of your gold coins and preserve their value is by storing them properly. We have already created a lengthy article on What is the Proper Way to Store Gold? but we will outline some best practices below.

  • Choose a cool, dry place: It’s best to keep your gold coins away from heat and moisture, which can cause corrosion.
  • Don’t store with silver: Don’t store your gold and silver coins together, as silver can tarnish and damage your gold coins. In fact, keep your coins away from any tarnished metal that might transfer its tarnish onto your gold.
  • Choose appropriate materials: Certain materials, such as PVC, can slowly damage your coins over time. PVC interacts with light and heat to create hydrochloric acid which can damage gold coins and diminish their value.
  • Keep your coin in its packaging: Most of the time, gold coins are sold in plastic sleeves or capsules. It’s best to keep your coin stored within this packaging to keep it protected.

If you don’t have a coin capsule, we stock an extensive range of coin capsules for various types of coins. Browse our coin capsules here to protect your coin from damage.

Other than how to store your coins, you should carefully consider the best place to store your coins to keep them protected. Below, we look at things to consider when storing your gold coins at home, in a safe deposit box, or in a vault.

  • Storing your coins at home: Storing your gold coins in your home means you can access them at any time. However, it also means it’s your sole responsibility to choose a safe and secure storage space. Be sure to keep your gold away from damp and other corrosives, take out adequate insurance, and avoid telling anyone you’re storing gold at home.
  • Storing your coins in a safe deposit box: These are locked, secure containers located inside a bank's vault or safe that you can rent for a fee. Safe deposit boxes offer security and high surveillance, but it means you can only access your gold coins during bank hours. You’ll also have less control over the environment in which your gold is stored. Be sure to consider whether it's worth the cost to assure your gold's security and always choose a reliable bank.
  • Storing your coins in a vault: These are highly secure facilities specifically designed to store gold and other precious metals. They'll protect your gold from damage and theft, however they can be expensive and you won't be able to access your coins easily.

Keep reading: How Much Does it Cost to Grade a Coin?

Summary: How to take care of gold coins

Taking good care of your gold coins is much easier than trying to reverse damage caused from improper handling. To keep your coins safe and secure from damage and environmental corrosion, we stock a wide range of coin capsules and coin boxes. We also sell cotton gloves in various sizes so you can handle your coins safely when storing them in collector boxes and capsules.

Whether you’re a seasoned investor or new to the world of coin collecting, follow the guidelines in this article and ensure you have the appropriate accessories to protect your investment and keep your coins looking as good as they did on the day you first purchased them.